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Monday, October 20, 2014

Warlords--3,000 Years Later

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, Zhuge Lian, the martial marquis of Shu in the Three Kingdoms, lived.  He was intelligent and of noble character.  Please join us for a little romp through his world.

Lest you think otherwise, here's proof that we are like the energizer bunny--still going!  I said to Paco the other morning, "You are aging well, growing more and more handsome."  And he said back to me...wait for it...wait for it..."You are getting more interesting."  Say WHAT?????????????????????

I was particularly impressed by the ominous family jewels guard on this guy!  Fierce, no?

This is one solid piece of carved rock.  The grandaddy of ALL such forms of art is in Beijing.

Old.  Very very.  We pondered the base construction material of these.  Plaster of paris?  Concrete? Granite? Obviously our ignorance is unequaled in all this vast land.

Taking a picture anywhere without 4,000 Chinese passing through or leaping into the picture has become my golden quest.

"And then I saw these four uncouth Americans walk casually by Chengdu's oldest and most revered relic without so much as even a sideways glance.  There is no hope for them.  They are an affront to our honored culture."

This friendly little girl was drawing a portrait of her mother.  She may not only be a budding artist, but it looks like she may also be trying her hand at self haircuts.

Kneeling pads.  We see these everywhere when we visit shrines or temples.  I'm sure they are made reverently and carefully by women honored to be chosen to perform this task.

I had to refrain from rushing up and removing the trash can in this picture.  I'm collecting shots of Chinese holy men and women.  This monk was taking a respite from whatever monks do all day from which they need to escape and find MORE inner peace.

I don't know if these pictures convey how truly truly magnificently gorgeous this place is.  We promise all visitors will be treated to a visit here.

Just happened to catch this guy.

Ahhh... a Chinese broom.  I'm planning a whole blogpost on Chinese custodial practices.  This is just a sneak peak.

A close up of the eave adornments.  Now you can scan back through the pictures and try and pick these guys out.

And THAT my friends is why this is Chengdu's #1 rated must see attraction.  Please arrive early in the day before the massive convoys of tourist buses or you will find yourself engulfed in a slowly moving sea of oriental humanity--actually not altogether a bad thing if you have lots and lots of time. Fortunately for us, they arrived just as we...left.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Face In the Place

Our city, Chengdu, is an intricate blend of worlds--part Orwellian, part post apocalyptic, part Disney, part utopian, part Rodeo Drive, and as evidenced by this clown, part Stephen King.

Festival/performance attire.

This gentleman was part of a stage celebration with singing and dancing that we chanced upon while visiting an ancient city near Chengdu.

This good soul was sitting quietly off by herself on a shoulder to shoulder crowded street market.  I semi-sneaked up on her.  She is doing handwork on some house slippers.  We see hundreds and hundreds of women relaxing on the street doing needlework.

And now that the weather is finally cooling, the knitters have come out of hiding!!!  I knew they were out there!

 In my next life, I am going to campaign for THIS job!  She probably doesn't know how much fun she is actually having, however.

 A pleasant peasant!

 At about 4 P.M. the "card sharks" start appearing any and everywhere.  The games are lively and boisterous and draw spectators.  When I showed this picture to my students and asked them about the little piles of money that often appear, they started to laugh.  Gambling is illegal on the streets.  Our discussion resulted in part of one class period being devoted to teaching Hadd Lao Shi to play a traditional card game called "Staring", named so because of close card scrutiny required when playing.  I sucked at it, and they thought that was hilarious.

My class of PhD students.  Intense.  Focused.  So so curious about American issues--racism, freedom. wild animals running freely in our streets.  We had been discussing life mission/purposes with gusto; here they are writing about their personal missions.  Fabulous fabulous stuff.  When I look at these pictures, I think is it any wonder they lead the world pack academically?  Most of these students are older, have families and cars, and have worked at a job before returning for graduate degrees.  I am buying them all a place ticket to the U.S. and have agreed to sponsor them all for the rest of their lives.  That's how much I love them.  When I look them in the eye and talk one on one,  I can scarcely contain my emotions.  What manner of people ARE they?????

This calligrapher I found in a Buddhist monastery is about to roll up a finished piece.  He waved me off after I'd taken a few pictures.  Here he is applying his "signature" with his official chop.

 Toaist priests.  Holy men and women (I suspect that these are women) roam this city much like missionaries in Provo.  A sneak into their private quarters revealed laundry drying and opened books laid down on small bamboo tables.

A snappy little dresser!  I wanted to distract her ("Here, little girl.  Want some candy?") and steal those shoes!  Diminuative Chinese girls wear the kind of haircut my mother imposed on me waaaaaaaaaay past the time I was willing.. 

 This little guy is a teddy.  I saw one who looked like he was driving a scooter, but I couldn't get my camera out fast enough!!  I had thought they were poodles!  He's about the weight of a loaf of bread and apparently very very smart.  Get thee a teddy!!

 Mid afternoon retiree entertainment in a park across the river from us.  He snaps the whip to spin the top.  Crack!  Crack!  Behind him was some uninhibited geezer karaoke going on as well as elderly women doing what looked like line dancing--maybe zumba!

Do you think these needles do double duty for acupuncture too??  I could rock this girl's world with some circular knitting needles, no?????

 JiLin Street antique market.  So so cool.

Student friend, Jason, with resident mother-in-law (although no wedding has taken place yet--apparently the bride and groom get a legal certificate from the government and gather with family and friends on an appointed day.  The groom gives a cup of tea to the bride's parents and voila!  They're married!  No one officiating.  Food.  Honeymoon.) on the right and her good friend on the left.  M.I.L. is a MAJOR hiker--goes every weekend and is about to take off for Thailand to hike!    Jason took a 2 week bike trip to Tibet last year.  Female teddy with bows.  How I ended up in their apartment is a cool story for another time.  Jason is headed in two years to study in Tennessee.  You may get to meet him!!

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley